How Much You Got?

By pure happenstance, I’d brought along some just-made pumpkin bread when I met up with a friend at the movies last week. We rendezvoused by the concession stand, where I found her mulling over a slice of, yes, pumpkin bread. (OK fine, it was one of those art-house cinemas that serves espresso and baked goods, along with the best movie popcorn in the city).

She finally passed, stopped by the $4-a-slice price tag. But a few days later, after said pumpkin bread was consumed and “Thanks for the yummy treat” expressed, I engaged her in a little game of “How Much Would You Pay for That?” It’s a long-time habit, dating back to an encounter with a city flea market vendor who replied to my question of “How much for that lamp?” with “How much you got?” Friends and family jokingly started to apply the game to other situations, including meals made at home. But it gradually dawned that the question was actually a useful tool. That tenderloin with a time-consuming sauce and a glass of wine became the “I’d pay $50 for that.” The holiday dinner we figured as “A $40 meal.” And so it goes. The pumpkin bread? It got the full $4 per slice rating, a thumbs up in movie parlance.

Go ahead, give it a try. Placing a monetary value on that plate of food you’ve served for dinner, or that pan of brownies hot out of the oven, or artfully prepared sandwich adds a gratifying sense of accomplishment to the time and effort you’ve put in, the culinary skills, mastery of ingredients and even thrift you bring to the table. After all, that pumpkin bread was mostly a way to use up some extra canned goods and leftover pistachios. The recipes made two loaves, 8-10 slices each @ $4 per. You do the math.

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